Pushing the Boundaries


Giant Squill (Scilla peruviana)

Giant Squill (Scilla peruviana)

Last year while traveling in England I ran across this beautiful Giant Squill (Scilla peruviana) in Merriments Nursery in Sussex.  I was struck by the broad leaves and thick flower head — unlike any Scilla I had ever seen.  Well the tropical foliage should have been my first clue but when I was filling out my Brent and Becky’s bulb order for the fall I saw them listed and quickly ordered 5 (the bulbs are $4 apiece).  It was not until I actually got around to planting them that I realized that these are mediterranean plants (think Spain, Portugal, and Italy).  Zone 7 is really pushing the edge for these plants.  

It was during Christmas week that I saw them edging their way out of the soil before any other bulb.  My guess is that this is why they might have trouble growing here.  If they are really that anxious to be flowering, we are likely to have a collision with the weather gods.  We are still two weeks away from the coldest days of winter so I will try to keep them mulched on the really cold nights.  So far they have handled 13 degrees without apparent damage.  

Scilla peruviana emerging

Scilla peruviana emerging

5 comments on “Pushing the Boundaries

  1. Jay

    Congratulations! I hope you can protect them from the cold, winter weather. I just have to tell you that my mother told me that the bulbs you sent her are pushing their leaves out of the soil in her garden in Kalyani, too. She is thrilled!


  2. Jonathan

    Go little Scilla, go!

    This post made me wonder why it’s called Scilla peruviana when it’s native to Portugal, Spain, and Italy. According to John Bryan’s “Bulbs,” it’s “said to have received its name because Clusius was told that it was brought on a ship named Peru” when it was introduced in 1607.

    I also noticed that this fellow reports no trouble with his Scilla peruviana down to -15F, even in pots: http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/pbs/2005-February/020626.html

    1. jw

      Thanks for the link. I had also seen reference to the Scilla peruviana surviving in Illinois in a sheltered spot. Apparently these plants have naturalized in the Caribbean and other parts of the Americas which is why many people don’t notice strange scientific moniker. There are also movements to change the genus. Giant Scilla works for me…

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